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What is a Tag Reader?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term tag reader refers to several different items including both devices and a type of software program. One tag reader involves scanning. It is part of an educational reading system by LeapFrog Enterprises called the Tag Reading System, in which the tag reader plays an audio file when applied to a printed word, making it “talk.” The second is a mobile phone program called Microsoft® Tag that is used to read and process tag images. The mobile phone is used to take a photo of or scan the tag, which is then linked to information and entertainment online. Finally, a tag reader can be a software program designed to deal with editing music management or multimedia metadata, which is the meaning the rest of this article will focus on.

Multimedia tags come in a variety of formats, including APEv2, ID3v1, ID3v2, MPR(iTunes), Vorbis comments, and Windows Media, which is separate from the actual content. A metadata tag reader is a piece of software that usually allows both individual editing and batch editing of these digital tags. Through this means, metadata can be corrected and large multimedia collections can be organized to suit the user’s needs or desires. These programs may also be called tag editors or tag parsers or simply taggers.

The editing capabilities of tag readers may be manual or automatic, or the user may have a choice. In addition, tag readers may be able to generate the file name based on the tags or the tag information from the file names. In the case of music files, tag readers may also be able to access the album information available through online databases, such as Amazon, Gracenote, or others.

Tag readers do not necessarily work with all metadata formats. In fact, tag readers may be created for a specific one of the formats, such as an ID3 tag reader or a Vorbis comment editor, or they may address a broader range of metatags, as TagScanner does. In addition, tag scanners may have a proprietary language that you have to learn to be able to use them.

Winamp, the Windows proprietary media player, and iTunes, Apple’s proprietary digital media player, are both thought of as players, but both include tag reader functionality. Through iTunes, people may edit ID3 tags without ever coming across the terms ID3 tags, tag reader, or multimedia metadata, whereas in WinAmp, the tags type—ID3v1 and ID3v2—are exposed, and “Auto-Tag” is an option.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for EasyTechJunkie, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By everetra — On Dec 31, 2011

@nony - Microsoft Tag reader is an awesome application. There are others like it that work well too, but I am familiar with this one.

It scans tag information that is encoded onto product barcodes. In the process it can download information about the product to your smart phone.

It opens up a world of possibilities, because there is virtually no limit to the amount of information you can download, although from a practical perspective you will probably want to keep it fairly tight.

A manufacturer can for example have a barcode tag on a wine bottle and the tag reader will scan it, and instantly they will see a multimedia presentation on their mobile phone about how wonderful this wine is, or whatever.

I think marketers are seeing a lot of possibilities with tag technology because it gives them additional leverage in enhancing the sales experience for the customer.

By nony — On Dec 31, 2011

@hamje32 - You raise a good point. I think there is another reason that tags are so important. Because the tags are in essence text descriptions, they can be easily searched on the Internet.

That’s where the Internet has been facing its biggest challenge. It’s easy to index web pages that have reams of text, but how do you index and search media files? Tags are the answer.

The metadata can be indexed and treated as if it were an independent web page as it were, making it easy for people to find sound and even video files online. Nowadays the Internet is becoming more media driven so that makes sense in my opinion.

By hamje32 — On Dec 30, 2011

Metadata is an important concept from what I’ve learned. Metadata is just data that describes another piece of data.

An example is file properties. If you right click on a file you get the properties tab, which tells you information about the file like the name, date of creation and so forth.

In this case, however, the “tag” serves as the metadata and it describes what’s in the media file that you’re messing with, regardless of the format. Being able to have this data inside your media means that you can organize a collection in a variety of ways like the article says.

Otherwise, about the only way that you would have to organize your media collection would be through using the file names, which is not always the best solution. With tags you can also write your own software programs that can read the tags, if you’re so inclined.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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